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January 22, 2007
The "opposite of the weather here" bento =P

[left bento tier with decorated salad; right bento tier with pasta and fruit]

Left: mixed baby greens salad with carrot-tulips, cucumber and red bell pepper flowers, mini-carrot flowers, sprinkling of yellow bell pepper and red onion, and butterflies made from mozzarella cheese
Right: whole wheat fusilli with prosciutto and peas, pomelo pieces mixed with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries


The weather is killing me here. Last weekend it was over 70 degrees. This weekend? 20-something and snow. Unbelievable. So here's a little "hurry up, spring" bento. =P

I cut the flowers and butterflies using mini-cookie cutters. (The butterfly cookie cutters are available here.) The butterflies were colored using Wilton icing colors (available here) and food colour markers (available here). I really like the color range of the icing colors (use not limited to icing by the way) and that it comes in a paste form. Just a wee bit is all you need! The food markers are fun too. Just remember to put them in the fridge once you've used them.

The pasta featured in today's bento is actually leftover from dinner last night. 5 stars for taste, and another 5 stars for tasting just as good the next day. You just have to be careful to not nuke the pasta too much when reheating as the cheese will melt everywhere (I like the texture of the shaved cheese). This type of pasta is perfect for bento as it is not saucy and tastes wonderful at room temperature. Try it -- you'll like it! Use regular fusilli if you're not a fan of whole wheat (or use Tinkyada brown rice spirals if you eat -- the texture of Tinkyada pasta is so close to the real thing . . . just be sure not to overcook!).

And for those of you unfamiliar with the pomelo, it is a tropical cousin of the grapefruit. Really huge (maybe double the size of a grapefruit) and on the sweeter side. The peel is rather thick and hard to get through, but the sweet flesh of the gargantuan segments is well worth it. I would recommend against not eating the 'skin' on the segments (which is pretty easy to remove). If you come across pomelo in your supermarket (I've seen them at H Mart and sometimes at Whole Foods), look for ones that are really heavy in relation to their size. The lighter ones tend to be dried out inside.

P.S. If you're savvy with computer programmin' and feel an unexplainable urge to create a Google gadget for Cooking Cute, let me know! Oooh, or a Mac widget... ;-P

FUSILLI WITH PROSCIUTTO AND PEAS

Ingredients

1/4 lb. prosciutto, julienned (easiest to slice pre-cut strips of prosciutto into slivers)
9-oz package of frozen peas
12 oz. fusilli (uncooked)
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved (about 1/4 lb. block)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
juice from 1/2 lemon
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Steps

  1. Boil water and cook fusilli until al dente. Drain well, then pour into a large bowl.
  2. Boil water and cook the peas according to the package instructions. Drain well, then pour into the bowl you will be placing the pasta in.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto slivers. (Try to separate them as best as possible as you're putting them in.) Saute until lightly browned, about 2 to 4 minutes (add a bit of olive oil if the prosciutto starts to stick). Then slide the prosciutto into the large bowl that you will be placing the pasta in.
  4. Usingthe same pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic slices and fry until golden brown. Remove from heat and add to the large bowl for the pasta..
  5. Once the pasta is done cooking and drained well, add it to the large bowl along with the cheese, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and parsley. Toss to coat well, then serve..
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